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The Odd Truth, May 10, 2004

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The Odd Truth is a collection of strange but factual news stories from around the world compiled by CBSNews.com's Brian Bernbaum.

On A Roll

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. - What appeared to be nothing more than another roll of toilet paper in the boys' restroom turned out to be a bankroll for fourth-grader Cody Yaeger.

That's because Cody discovered a $100 bill neatly folded and tucked inside.

The position of the bill - and the pristine condition of the toilet paper roll - left Jamestown Elementary Principal Jack DeLeeuw wondering if the bill was rolled in from the start.

"It's as if someone at the factory put it in there purposely," DeLeeuw told The Grand Rapids Press for a Saturday story.

DeLeeuw also said he was impressed with 10-year-old Cody's integrity after the boy took the $100 directly to his teacher.

"I didn't think it was right to keep it," Cody said.

DeLeeuw said he checked with school staff and called leaders of a congregation that meets at the school on Sundays, but no one claimed the bill. So it looks like it's going to Cody.

DeLeeuw said school policy requires staff members and students to turn in found items to the school office, but if the owner cannot be located in two weeks, the finder can claim it.

Cody said he doesn't have big spending plans, except maybe tickets to a West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball game.

"Maybe I'll give it to my Mom," he said.

X-Rated 'Blank Tape'

CEDAR LAKE, Indiana - Sherryl Reeves says the blank tape she bought was anything but blank. According Reeves, there was porn on the sealed tape that cost her two bucks. Reeves says she bought the tape at a Family Dollar store in Cedar Lake, Indiana. Reeves got a nasty surprise when she put the supposed new tape in a VCR to record a show - only to find pre-recorded X-rated scenes. She contacted the store immediately. But Reeves says she's not so concerned about getting a refund, she just wants to make sure it doesn't happen again. Family Dollar officials have pulled the rest of the Maxonic Gold High Grade tapes. But they can't explain how the mistake was made.

'What's It Take To Get A Life Sentence Around Here?'

YAKIMA, Wash. - Ruben Ramirez, 45, was disappointed when he got an 8-and-a-half year sentence for bank robbery.

After all, the reason he demanded money was to be assured of a life prison term under the state's "three strikes" law.

He told a teller at the downtown Wells Fargo Bank that he a gun, then sat by the front door and waited for police to arrive, Aug. 23, inviting her to sound the alarm after showing her he didn't have a gun after all.

He also said he was broke, unable to find work and had recently moved to Yakima from California after his wife divorced him. As it turned out, he had been away from California for 17 years.

On Thursday, it turned out his prison term calculations were off, too.

Shortly before he was set to be sentenced in Yakima County Superior Court, lawyers in the case learned that because of a legal quirk, his three armed robbery convictions in California in the early 1980s counted for only one strike in Washington state.

It seems Ramirez was convicted of the second and third offenses in California before he was found guilty in the first. To trigger Washington's "three strikes" provision, an offender must be convicted of violent crimes on separate occasions before a new strike is counted.

So he still has one to go, and that bothered Judge Susan L. Hahn, who sentenced him to the top of the standard range.

"If you want to go prison this bad, what will you do in the future?" Hahn asked.

Ramirez did not reply.

Vancouver Mayor Proposes Legalizing Pot

VANCOUVER, British Columbia - One big city mayor has an idea for preventing the budget from going up in smoke - legalize pot. Former lawman Larry Campbell is now the mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia. He says marijuana sales should be taxed. He notes the pot trade is estimated at $6 billion annually in his Canadian province - larger than construction or timber. He says pot taxes could used to fund treatment for more serious drug problems. Campbell suggests marijuana sales be regulated like alcohol or tobacco. He outlined his proposal over the weekend for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

Puppy Calls Emergency Service

OSLO, Norway - An emergency services switchboard couldn't understand a word the caller was saying, so they sent a crew to investigate.

There was nothing wrong with Raia, apart from being a puppy. Barking into the phone was her way of communicating, the state radio network NRK reported Monday.

Lars Letnes, of the Nord-Troendelag police district, said a call came through to the 113 medical emergency number at about 1 a.m. Sunday. The switchboard operators tried to talk to the caller, but heard only a gruff, barking sound.

"They were afraid someone needed help and was trying to say so they asked for assistance from the police," he told NRK.

The police went to the house, rang the doorbell and woke up 24-year-old Aleksander Elden, whose family owns the four-month-old Norwegian Elkhound.

"It could only have been her that called. She was the only one there," Elden told The Associated Press by telephone, adding he found the puppy lying on the floor next to the phone.

The police took the confusion with a sense of humor.

"In our log, it says the son in the house couldn't see that the dog was in any pain and concluded that she had probably dialed the wrong number," said Letnes.

Nearly 5,000 Crows Shot In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia - Volunteers shot down 4,700 crows in a Malaysian town where the birds were getting out of hand.

About 98 licensed shooters roamed through the town of Klang Saturday, killing as many crows as possible, said Mohamad Sharif Yusof, president of the town council.

"We are constantly receiving complaints from members of the public about crows which steal their food, dirty their cars with excrement and stain their laundry that is hung out to dry," he told the national news agency Bernama.

Each volunteer received a certificate and the equivalent of 40 cents for every crow shot in Klang, 25 miles west of Kuala Lumpur.

Famous Sausage Set To Retire

MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin's most famous sausage has decided to retire, but she'll always relish the memories.

Mandy Block, the woman in the Italian sausage costume hit with a bat by Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon last July, won't be in the Milwaukee Brewers' sausage races this summer.

She has decided to retire from competitive racing at Miller Park to take psychology classes at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

"It's too bad," she said. "It kind of ended with a bang, though."

Block, of South Milwaukee, became a celebrity after the incident was broadcast worldwide. She didn't let it get to her, though, accepting Simon's apology and declaring herself "just a sausage."

The 20-year-old ran only one race after she was hit by Simon's bat. The rest of the season, she shot T-shirts into the Miller Park box seats or worked as a ball girl.

Simon was arrested by Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies after the game and fined $432 in Milwaukee County Circuit Court. Major League Baseball suspended him for three days.

Simon sent Block an autographed bat and apologized several times. When he returned to Miller Park later in the season, this time as a Chicago Cub, he bought a section of fans Italian sausages.

Block was recognized by the National Hot Dog & Sausage Council with a certificate of bravery. "I'm proud of it," she said. "I didn't even know there was a hot dog council."